RSS feed

Bernal Merino, Miguel Á. (ed.) (2011). "Video Game Localisation." TRANS. Revista de Traductología, 15.

Málaga: Publicaciones Universidad de Málaga, pp. 11-114, €15. ISSN: 1137-2311.

In this dossier on video game localisation Bernal-Merino has brought together the expertise of several professionals and academics who share their knowledge and personal experiences in contributions which mitigate the lack of attention paid to video game localisation in Translation Studies in the past.

The authors, who have all worked in the video game localisation industry, treat the reader to a wealth of resources, best practices, suggestions, research results, and even didactic proposals. Taking into consideration the secrecy that often characterises the video game localisation industry, this dossier is a must for those who want to gain some insight into this industry and carry out research in the field. Although some articles are focused on Spanish, the topics discussed are relevant for an international audience.

The volume begins with an historical overview of video game localisation by Bernal Merino, who highlights four main stages since the emergence of video games in the 1970s. In doing so, the author refers to the evolution experienced with regard to the level of localisation targeted in each stage, as we see how the industry moves from a “Box and Docs” to a “partial localisation” approach, which is then followed by “full localisation.” In fact, as Bernal-Merino argues and as many of the articles in this dossier suggest, the latter might probably be soon replaced by deep or enhanced localisation where “anything that is not against the game world itself and can ease the immersion of players can be reconsidered and adapted to fit what is considered to have a more successful local impact” (17).

Such an adaptation might entail “transcreation,” a concept introduced by Mangiron and O’Hagan (2006: 11), which is referred to by several authors in this volume (Bartelt-Krantz, Crosignani and Ravetto) to emphasise that video game localisation goes beyond translation. However, as argued by Serón Ordóñez in this dossier, transcreation is not at the core of all video game localisation projects. In order to prove this point, the author focuses on a game with historical content (Age of Empires III). Drawing on descriptive analysis data and her own experience of localising and revising this game, Serón Ordóñez explores the terminological challenges faced by video game localisers and reflects on the compromises that have to be reached in some cases. The case studies presented by this and other authors in the dossier provide the reader with invaluable insight into the localisation workflow and the main challenges encountered by all part-takers when localising different genres. In this vein, Crosignani and Ravetto share the challenges of localising the Buzz! game series, emphasising the need to tailor quiz questions to the target audience not only with regard to content but also to the level of difficulty.

Slightly more focused on project management issues but without forgetting the essential role played by translators as well as their needs, Christou et al. reveal the impact of simultaneous shipment on the video game localisation workflow, and how challenges are solved at BioWare. The solutions suggested are based on a methodical approach which relies on the automation of processes and the anticipation of mistakes, involving the use of internal documents and applications.

Effective project management is also essential in amateur videogame localisation, as shown by Díaz Montón, who delves into the motivations of romhackers, and reveals their standards with regard to quality. The concept of crowdsourcing as a potential “third way” suggested by this author is particularly interesting. Perhaps a controlled form of crowdsourcing resulting from the combination of professional and amateur translation could put an end to legal issues and the frustration of gamers who are not able to enjoy their favourite games in their language. This is indeed related to accessibility, a topic explored by Mangiron in her article “Game Accessibility: Current Practices and Future Perspectives,” which refers not only to linguistic accessibility but also to the barriers faced by players with functional diversity. The author suggests further avenues of research and proposes six strategies to work towards the design of “universally accessible video games” (65), based on cooperation and interdisciplinarity.

Bartelt-Krantz also argues that collaboration between part-takers is key to deliver quality under pressure, and that the latter is a must to achieve a profitable return on the investment (ROI) and to enhance the final consumer experience. Consumer satisfaction and ROI are also mentioned by Edwards, whose article focuses mainly on game design and game content with regard to “culturalisation.” Through interesting examples of cultural aspects that could and did generate conflict between the game context and local cultures, the author suggests solutions and advocates a “proactive approach to content design and development, wherein the international viability of the content is considered throughout the cycle” (21).

Vela Valido’s article is a necessary addition to the existing literature on the didactics of video game localisation (see Bernal-Merino 2008 or more recently, Granell 2011). Although the focus is on Spain, many of the challenges and proposals could easily be applied to other institutional contexts. In fact, some of the inconsistencies and challenges discussed by this author are directly or surreptitiously reflected on throughout the dossier: the rapid evolution of the industry, the blurred boundaries or closed links with other areas (software localisation and audiovisual translation), the use of CAT tools, the need for cooperation, and the demanding profile of video game localisers and, therefore, of lecturers working in this field.

The dossier clearly meets the objective set by its editor at the beginning of the volume: that of bridging the gap between academia and the videogame industry by sharing knowhow and best practice for the benefit of all involved in video game localisation. This is achieved not only through rigorous and well-researched articles but also through original and professional material which otherwise would be very difficult to find and access.

  • Bernal Merino, Miguel (2008). “Training translators for the video game industry.” Jorge Díaz Cintas (ed.) (2008). The Didactics of Audiovisual Translation. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 141-155.
  • Granell, Ximo (2011) “Teaching Video Game Localisation in Audiovisual Translation Courses at University.” The Journal of Specialised Translation 16, 185-202.
  • Mangiron, Carmen and Minako O'Hagan (2006). “Game localisation: unleashing imagination with 'restricted' translation.” The Journal of Specialised Translation 6, 10-21.

Rocío Baños Piñero, Imperial College London